Humans huddle in their walled cities, supplying blood in exchange for safety. But not even that is guaranteed. Dawn has lost her entire family and now reluctantly serves as the delegate to Lord Valentine, the most powerful vampire for miles. It isn’t until she meets Victor, Valentine’s son, that she realizes not all vampires are monsters....
Darkness Before Dawn is a fresh new story with captivating characters, unexpected plot twists, a fascinating setting, and a compelling voice. Written under the name J. A. London by a talented mother-son team, the trilogy is perfect for fans of True Blood and the House of Night and Morganville Vampires series.
OPINION: 4 STARS
With an interesting twist on vampires in a post-apocalyptic setting, Darkness Before Dawn merges the best parts of fantasy and dystopian, while also infusing hints of our reality into it. There are some stunning twists in this one, and an overall steady pace that leads to a great climax of an ending, and leaves things set up perfectly for the next installment. Bringing in some rougher elements, and adding in gentle romance and humor as well, this one is definitely one to not be missed.
Dawn is a stunning character, one with an immense amount of internal strength and drive. Still pained over the loss of her parents, the former delegates to Lord Valentine, and not over her brother’s death several years before, she has her wounds and holds them close to herself. The moments when she lets them go, shows the deeper parts of things, however, are stunning and poignant, and will draw readers in. She goes through a tremendous amount of growth, not just in who she is but the way she views the world as well, and each driving moment for it is handled smoothly. Standing up for herself when she needs to, yet also understanding of others, she is an easy character to get behind.
Victor is an equally well done character, very multifaceted and enamoring. Though a vampire, there is a strong bit of humanity in him, which goes far to challenge Dawn’s views on things. With a slow burn between the two, and a deep connection that forms between them, their budding romance is both sweet and heated. Going beyond just human/vampire, with other things to stand in their ways, this one has hints of the forbidden romance without being the outright draw of it. Victor really is a great guy, quietly intense and incredibly perceptive, and several of the best moments in the book included him.
Tegan, Dawn’s best friend, had hints of stereotypical in her, yet she was, overall, a loyal friend. Though Dawn couldn’t always be completely open with her, and Tegan definitely pulls Dawn into some not so great situations, there is still a great friendship and understanding between them. Then there’s Michael, Dawn’s boyfriend, who left me with a sour taste in my mouth a few times. Though seemingly perfect at the start, Michael is a little too testosterone and pride driven at times, with a reckless and skewed view of things. What seems to be a petty fight to me as a reader ends up being much more to him, leaving me less than impressed with him. At times, I felt like his reactions were simply a tool to drive Dawn closer to Victor, rather than anything too true to his character. Still, there were some sweet moments between Michael and Dawn, and overall, I fully appreciate and understand the way these two rely on each other, yet also are starting to verge apart. The history behind them makes this difficult, and overall, despite my few personal gripes, I think London navigated the trials of their relationship smoothly.
I loved the plot of this one, especially the unexpected twists thrown in. Though a few things can be potentially guessed, or at least readers will have an idea that something is off, there are some things that pack a huge punch when they’re revealed. With just the right amount of clues dropped at perfect moments, the reader figures things out at about the same pace, for the most part, as Dawn does, bridging a stronger connection there. Filled with intrigue, smoothly written and a great voice to it, this one straddles the genre lines in a great way. With a beautifully crafted world ruled by vampires, and the confines and laws of it showcased throughout the book, yet also being a world that can easily be understood, Darkness Before Dawn pitches a new tale on vampires and does it remarkably.
Source: ARC received from author in exchange for an honest review
Reading level: Ages 14 and up
Paperback: 368 pages
Publication Date: May 29, 2012